British Council’s Youth Climate Leaders: Paving the path for COP29


British Council Youth Delgates at COP28

In 2023, as part of the British Council’s long-term commitment in empowering and facilitating youth engagement in Climate Action and Advocacy, the British Council supported six youth delegates from Sri Lanka who were accredited by the Sri Lankan government and joined the Government of Sri Lanka’s United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP28 youth delegation.

As these youth delegates channel their efforts towards COP29, we outline their reflections on their participation in COP28 and how this has influenced and guided their plans for 2024.

Sajini Wickramasinghe is a British Council Youth Climate Ambassador, an attorney-at-law and rapporteur on discrimination at the Commonwealth Youth Human Rights and Democracy Network. Reflecting on climate litigation, the intersection between human rights and climate change and how climate change has become a mass violation of human rights, Sajini believes that the more countries emit, the more “the right to life” is violated. Her action plan for COP29 includes more preparatory dialogues and stakeholder consultations to engage youth, lawyers, and other professionals in climate action. She has kicked off her COP29 advocacy work by contributing to written statements of Sri Lanka for the International Court of Justice Advisory opinion on climate change.

Mohamed Husni is a British Council International Climate Champion and Co-Founder/Director of Programme Strategy at ‘IMPACT VOICES – The Social Innovation Intermediary’ dedicated for Systems Transformation.

Drawing on his extensive experience in youth leadership and climate action in Sri Lanka and across the Commonwealth countries, he believes understanding the interconnected dynamics of Climate Justice, Democracy, and Systems Leadership is crucial for addressing climate change and realising a sustainable and just society. He further stated: “Upholding the integrity of all involved, implementing robust accountability mechanisms, and nurturing increased awareness and capacity among stakeholders, all within the UNFCCC process, are important factors in shaping the trajectory of COP29 and achieving meaningful progress in the years ahead.”

Jayanthan Amalanathan, a British Council Youth Climate Ambassador from the Eastern Province envisions tackling climate change from his expertise in Mechanical and Electronic Engineering. On his journey to COP29, he illuminated the potential for climate advocacy in Sri Lanka and wishes to engage with technical researchers and start-ups who provided valuable perspectives at COP28. He further emphasised the need to bridge policy gaps hindering the implementation of initiatives on water quality monitoring and plastic credit.

A British Council Youth Climate Ambassador from the Southern Province, Erandika Ediriweera expressed that youth engagement is vital in addressing climate challenges and should immediately extend actions to the most vulnerable communities. Her COP29 focus will be on urban resilience and loss and damage.

Minuri Perera, a Researcher and a British Council Youth Climate Ambassador from the Western Province, is keen on studying the power dynamics in climate negotiations at COP further. In her call to action for COP29 she hopes to advocate for youth voice in more equitable and inclusive climate policies, emphasising the importance of addressing power imbalances to achieve meaningful progress in the fight against climate change.

Shamla Saleem, Founder of Global Youth Climate Connect and a British Council Youth Climate Ambassador, stated that from hosting side events at COP28 as a facilitator and speaker, she has been able to exchange knowledge and attended sessions that enriched her knowledge as a negotiator. Leading up to COP29, Shamla aims to build momentum by organising capacity-building sessions at the local and regional levels. She plans to extend the youth engagement space in Sri Lanka, hosting the Regional Conference of Youth for Asia in 2024, while also following up on the implementation of the Sri Lanka Youth Statement to COP28.

On the roadmap to COP29 in 2024 to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, the British Council’s global Climate Connection programme will continue to drive the climate agenda. Together with youth climate leaders, British Council Sri Lanka will continue to engage with multiple stakeholders to support and develop new solutions, partnerships, and platforms to address the climate emergency by connecting diverse expertise and experiences locally, regionally, and globally.

Visit https://www.britishcouncil.lk/programmes/climate-connection to learn more about ongoing programmes and how you can be a part of this journey.

Planning for COP 29 at the British Council Colombo

British Council Sri Lanka Country Director Orlando Edwards with Climate Change Secretariat Sri Lanka Director Leel Randeni

Shamla at Sri Lanka Pavilion hosting session Youth and NDC

Erandika at the Ideas Space sharing her refelections

Sajini advocating for Human Rights

Husni and UN ASG for Youth


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